Need Help Starting A Successful Career In Music?

Do you need immediate help starting a successful career in music? Here are 4 things that will put you on the right track.

Ultimate Guitar

Do you need immediate help starting a successful career in music? Here are 4 things that will put you on the right track.

Practice to become a professional musician Continuously work on improving your musical skills, but before you think, That's obvious. Tell me something I don't know, there are important things to consider. It's not necessarily about learning more techniques, improving your guitar speed or increasing the size of your chord vocabulary. Think about what a professional musician really needs to know and do musically. Playing your instrument well at home is one thing, but playing well consistently in the studio or on stage is completely different, thus the training and practicing required to play well in those professional environments are also very different.

Yes, you should continue to improve your overall musical skills, but if you want to get started on a music career you will need to specifically practice your ability to play well consistently' in a variety of higher-pressure situations. - Amateurs practice something to get it right'. Professionals practice to never get it wrong'.

So the next time you practice your guitar, instead of trying to play something faster' or learn something new', focus on playing whatever you can already play consistently well'.

Think about a professional guitar player like Eric Clapton. He's not a great technical guitar player at all, his knowledge of music theory is probably not vast, but one of the reasons why he became successful in his early days (and continues to be successful today) is because he can play on his own level consistently well' every night in any environment.

In addition to the consistency factor' just mentioned, there are other things professionals have practice that most guitar players typically don't implement in their practicing. For example, having a really good ear is something that professional musicians rely on heavily, yet most guitar players don't dedicate practice time to develop their aural skills.

Your Recordings If your music skills are good and your songs are good it might be all for nothing if your recordings suck. You do not necessarily have to invest huge amounts of money to record in a great studio, nor do you have to invest huge amounts of money in a great home studio (although it is nice), but you DO need the playing on your recordings to sound TIGHT (making everything rhythmically PERFECT, appropriate dynamic playing, etc.)!

Do NOT make the mistake of thinking, oh this is only a demo, so tight playing is not that critical when making a simple demo... I assure you, IT IS! Virtually anyone in the music industry today who hears your music will immediately notice if the performance recording is not tight. And if it's not, they won't be interested. Why? Because your demo is supposed to show others both your songs and your musical abilities. The assumption will be that if your demo is not tight, then your live sound will be amateurish and putting you in the studio will cost a fortune when you have to play something 500 times to get it right.

So if you want to build a music career, you should practice recording yourself frequently in order to make your studio playing as tight as possible.

Your Live Playing It's been said that successful music careers are built on the stage. While not all musicians start their music careers this way, it is true that your live playing is a critical component and can make or break your chances of developing a music career.

Record companies want bands that can sell themselves from the stage. That means when a band plays live people listening should want to actually buy the band's music, and all other band related merchandise. It's a fact that your fans will buy more during and after a great live show than after a mediocre one even if the songs played are exactly the same. The music industry (or successful bands you might like to join) look very closely at your ability to create a great live show experience for audiences.

Most musicians and amateur bands don't truly work to improve their live performance skills. Great live playing is much more than simply playing songs while standing (and hoping not to make mistakes) yet for the majority of local musicians and bands this is all they really seem to focus on when playing live.

Where your fans live is really important If you want to get signed to a major record label, which do you think is better?

A. To have 5,000 fans in your country (or around the world). B. To have 5,000 fans in your local area only.

The answer is B. It is much easier to get 5,000 fans around the country (or the entire world) than it is to get 5,000 fans in your local area. Everyone in the music industry knows this (including record companies). If you sold 5,000 copies worldwide of your new album on your own, that is good accomplishment, but if you sold 5,000 in your local area on your own that would be a major accomplishment in the eyes of record labels.

Why does it matter? Record labels know that if you can sell 5,000 copies in one location on your own, then it makes sense that a record company could probably sell even more copies not only in your area but in many cities/countries.

By having so many fans in one area you demonstrate to the music industry that you have a lot of proven value to offer and their willingness to invest into your music career will go way up!

Although the internet is a great tool for musicians many artists are focusing on reaching out to the whole world at once and don't invest enough time and energy into building a valuable local foundation of fans.

Before the internet, bands typically tried to build a strong local fan base around their city. Those that succeeded in this area where most likely to build a successful music career. But since the internet has opened up so many new possibilities, many unsigned musicians/bands have forgotten the basics which are still very relevant to getting signed to a major record company.

What's next? Obviously there are a lot of things you need to do to develop a music career, but this article is designed to get you started now so that you will be in a better position to do the next steps after you have implemented the concepts above. Here's a quick summary of action steps to take now:

  • In addition to improving your overall musical skills, practice to play consistently well' with the skills you already have.
  • Practice recording yourself frequently in order to make your studio playing as tight as possible.
  • Work on improving your live performance skills (stage presence, playing in totally different environments, etc.).
  • Build your fan base locally as well as internationally (using different strategies for each).

    Get 15 additional free music career tips that will help you build your career.

    About the author: Tom Hess is a professional guitarist and mentors musicians to start a career in music.

    2009 Tom Hess Music Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

  • 24 comments sorted by best / new / date

      TBH I'm just glad he's not posting fiction. Not that I don't appreciate what the authors do, it's just that on a guitar playing website I'd like there to be a few more columns on actually improving technique. This one doesn't really do that either, but at least he's sort of heading in the right direction.
      Article premise was good, but alot of the points were not made clearly. Eg. imopriving your ear. Yep, definitely needed, how???? Hmm, no explanation, just a general statement. Well, what about the development of TASTE in playing, being able to play cross a variety of styles, being able to hear your "place" in the song, understand how to sue dynamics, all these things come under ear training and musicality, not to mention learning tp recognise chord progressions by ear etc. On that one point he could witrte a whole article, and i think really alot of these articles make points that whilst vaild are ill explained.
      sbinlb wrote: i knew it was a tomhess article just by the title.
      I was going to say that; so did I.
      All you guys ever do is dis tom hess, but his advice is really good. I take lessons with one of his former students, and he has a great music career and is a great player. Dont under estimate tom.
      Its So Easy
      Really tired of these articles, I try to read them but the tone is like sitting in a first grade classroom.
      So why hasn't Tom Hess started a successful career in music. I'm suprised he didn't add assult people with your own brand of self promotion at every opportunity you get.
      What an ass, he underestimates Eric Clapton. You're the living proof that it's easier said than done.
      bpazolli wrote: So why hasn't Tom Hess started a successful career in music. I'm suprised he didn't add assult people with your own brand of self promotion at every opportunity you get.
      great comment
      none of this will really help you get signed...although all its supposed to do is start you off, which i suppose it does...
      You guys can laugh and rip into Tom all you want, at the end of the day his career programs are awesome - my best mate took it up knowing NO theory, within a year he was teaching guitar for the local council (in a post they MADE FOR HIM) as well as teaching in different recording studios locally, AND has a track on a worldwide released compilation album. If you folks don't like Tom's writings, dont come here and read them. Common sense? Tl;dr - Haters, GTFO.
      Oh look he's back, I was wondering if he died or something. We haven't had one of his advertisements in months, I was getting withdrawal signs from not being bugged enough by this guy.
      This is blatant advertising, and also incorrect and unhelpful. This article is about becoming a competent live musician, nothing more. There are a lot of competent live musicians in the world who have not embarked on a successful music career despite their best attempts.
      I've disliked almost every article this guy's put out. But I have to say that this wasn't bad. It's common sense advice that every musician knows initially. Somehwere along the way isn't forgotten, but rather leaves the spotlight, and this is a good reminder. In the end, though, most of you are right - they're just advertisements for getting people to sign up and pay him instead of really trying to help anyone.
      oh and Hess is very popular in Japan, but shred stuff isn't as big in the west. Thats why Marty Freidman's over there as well
      Nah this one seemed quite helpful, although the tone of these articles strikes me as somewhat patronising and stuck up